Childnet International’s mission is to work in partnership with others around the world to help make the Internet a great and safe place for children. Childnet anounced on April 30th that they are launching a
global information campaign to explain the world of music downloading to teachers and parents worldwide.
This updated pocket-sized guide, supported by Pro-music, the international alliance of music sector groups, will be distributed through schools and colleges, libraries, record stores, teaching portals and websites in 21 countries.
The primary problems with this campaign are twofold:
1. The campaign appears to be little more then a scare campaign cooked up the RIAA. The guide to “Young People, Music and the Internet” ignores users rights like Fair Use and provides no real resources for parents that want to learn about the issues and options. As a parent I am insulted by the single sided perspective that uses fear over facts.
2. The campaign fails to educate young people or parents on real safe online practices. Services that include free legal content like Miro, jamendo.com and Magnatune are ignored while the resource for finding music are nothing more than a list of approved online music stores. This campaign is as close to a pure advertisement as one can get while still pretending to educate.
Here is an example of the scare tactics used to “educate” one on using music at home
“What are the risks of looking for music?”
One of the risks with P2P is that children may come across unwelcome content such as viruses, pornographic or violent images. Some files are purposely misnamed to trick people into downloading them. Because of the way P2P services work, filtering tools that can block offensive content like porn or violent images and video on websites are not effective in blocking the same content when made available through P2P. This leaves children at risk.
Some P2P software lets users “chat” with other file-sharers, most of them strangers, so the same concerns and rules about chatting on the internet should apply here too. See Childnet’s
Brian’s Comments: Pure scare tactics with little to no factual basis. Chatdanger.com is another scare tacit site that is short on facts and long on FEAR.
“Could our private files leak on to the internet?”
P2P software opens “doors” in your computer which may compromise privacy and security. It is possible to inadvertently share private and confidential details including financial information with other file-sharers.
Some P2P programmes come with extra software, called “spyware”. This may report which websites you visit to marketing companies, or even record your passwords and send them to fraudsters.
File-sharers’ computers may be vulnerable to viruses infecting other machines on the P2P networks and to people trying to control computers remotely. In many instances remotely controlled computers are used to send unsolicited emails or spam without the knowledge of the owner.
Brian’s Comments: More scare tactics with little to no factual basis. Most P2P software is just as safe as other programs I am more worried about a root kit from used Sony CD’s then a P2P client. If you want to teach people how to avoid spyware give them a list of well reviewed P2P clients.
“Can we copy music if it’s online?”
Copyright can seem confusing, but it applies to digital music just as much as it does the physical CD. Copyright rules protect the artist and creator and allow them to be rewarded for their work. Some people are happy for you to copy or use their work for free, but most artists and musicians rely on copyright law to guarantee an income.
Copying music you’ve bought to your computer or player is a common activity which can generally be done without legal consequences. However distributing a song to others without the permission of the rights holders is a very different story. Unauthorised copying and distribution of copyrighted music is breaking the law, and that includes file-swapping of any copyrighted music on the best-known P2P networks such as Limewire. The recording industry has taken action against many people who have done this, with some large fines resulting.
Parents and carers can be held responsible for what happens on the family computer even if they are not themselves engaged in illegal activity.
Brian’s Comments: Copyright laws are national in scope for some countries noncommercial sharing is legal. The RIAA’s litigation and legal claims over distribution and parent liability are conjecture at best. Does it really make children safe online to SCARE them with lawsuit threats? Why not spend the time teaching them how to use the internet responsibly. This is like teaching safe sex through a scare video of STD’s without teaching how to use a condom. Finally, what about Fair Use and Fair Dealing? Both the US and Israel have strong Fair use exceptions while much of the rest of the world has other exceptions. Why only teach one side of the issue? Childnet, give parents some credit for having a brain and next time provide them with facts and options not propaganda.